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2,000 families to be rendered homeless to save Weija Dam

Weija Dam

More than 2,000 families will be forced to evacuate their houses according to a demolition order issued by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to some residents in Gbawe Gonse in the Weija Gbawe Municipality of the Greater Accra Region. Last Monday, October 9, 2023, a number of houses were marked with red paint inscription which read “to be demolished by GWCL” and the date October 9, 2023, written below it.

The markings were done by some men in civilian clothes suspected to be from the Weija Gbawe Municipal Assembly and the GWCL under the supervision of armed men in military uniforms. When the Daily Graphic visited the area on Tuesday, October 10, it found that some buildings that were more than 600 metres from the river with others on a nearby hill had been marked for demolition.

“The marking was done on October 9, 2023, and that was the date they wrote on all the buildings. That has left most of us confused because it doesn’t state when the demolition would be done or give us a grace period to evacuate our buildings,” said Mr Asare who had been living in the community for the past 30 years.

Mr Asare, who is also a government appointeee to the Weija Gbawe Municipal Assembly called on the government to intervene to ensure the demolition was not carried out and lives were protected. “We support any initiative to protect the water body but that must not involve the use of the military”, said Mr Asare who called for an engagement between the GWCL and the residents to come up with permanent solutions to the issue.

One of the affected houses

For residents and homeowners in the affected areas, including Agape Down, Agape Royal and Ablekuma Joma, the move to demolish their over 500 houses had left them spending the last two days under the looming fear that their hundreds of millions of Ghana cedis-worth properties were going to be pulled down with no compensation or a resettlement plan.

Already, a number of houses had been demolished about a fortnight ago in Joma, a nearby community in the same municipality with no prior notice or compensation for the victims. The demolition in the two communities will be the second in 12 years in the same area by the GWCL following a demolition of more than 500 completed and uncompleted houses in December 2011 which left more than 2,000 people homeless and led to the death of a pregnant woman.

During the first demolition exercise, the GWCL cited encroachment of the buffer zone of the Densu River which feeds the Weija Dam, a crucial national asset providing potable water for thousands of residents of the central and western parts of Accra as the reason. However, with the upcoming demolition, no reasons have been given and most of the houses that have been marked were far from the buffer zone of the river.

“Many people went into abject poverty after the first demolition of houses in this area, marriages were broken, and many died slowly. How can we as a nation be doing this to our own people? We are not foreigners.

We are Ghanaians who have toiled to earn some income to provide shelter for ourselves and our families,” a resident whose house had been marked with red paint indicating plans of the GWCL to pull it down, stated. A woman whose one-storey building had been marked, Agatha Ofori, said she had been subjected to emotional torture “I cannot sleep. It has not been easy for us”.

She said “My husband and I learned after we had built our house and moved in that some houses in this area were demolished some time ago. Looking at the current cost of land and building materials, how can we evacuate our homes now? Where will we go with our children?”

A retiree, John Kpeglo, who has rebuilt half of his building which was pulled down during the first demolition exercise said: “I am afraid. I plead with the government to help us.” He said the landlord’s association was ready to plant trees to demarcate the land and state clearly what the boundaries were.

During the visit, it came to light that the distraught residents had just ended a meeting to discuss the way forward. Most of the affected residents, especially the women with their eyes heavy with tears, appealed to the government to come to their aid. They said the assembly had provided GPS addresses to houses in the area and took property rates from them, and the Electricity Company of Ghana had supplied electricity to the area while the community had demarcated electoral areas.

“No one can say we live here illegally because these things were not done for ghosts,” said one resident who pointed to a request notice from the assembly for property rate on one of the houses. They believe the earmarked demolition was being done at the blind side of the court since there was a standing injunction against any demolition in the area.

Others wanted to know what would happen to the government agencies such as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Land Commission, Weija Gbawe Municipal Assembly, Forestry Commission, Ministry of Works and Housing and Ghana Water Company Limited that sat aloof and allowed the people to sell and build on the land after the first demolition exercise more than a decade ago.

However, when the Daily Graphic contacted the Head of Communications of the GWCL, Stanley Martey, he said he could not comment on the issue and that the company was not aware of the demolition exercise.

By: Emelia Ennin Abbey

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